Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (45), April 9, 1986

Questions of Freedom and Coercion

[The Times titled it “Isn’t This Coercion Truly Unfair?”]

Recently, L.C. Noriega of Magnolia excoriated the New York archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church for “blackmailing” the New York Medical College into having its affiliated hospitals stop performing abortions.

I am not Roman Catholic, nor am I seeking to defend the church. But as a Protestant minister, as an American citizen who embraces openness on inquiry, allow me to add some thoughts.

If the New York archdiocese, which voluntarily channeled its own funds some years ago to save the New York Medical College from bankruptcy, chooses to make continuing financial support contingent on adherence to a pro-life position, I cannot see how this violates religious freedom, as Mr. Noriega maintains. Rather, it upholds the freedom of the Roman Catholic Church to do with its own monies what it so chooses.

Clearly, Mr. Noriega believes that the Roman church is out of sync with the times, but that is a separate issue. If certain peoples or institutions choose to advocate legalized abortions, why should they presume to expect support from the Roman Catholic Church, or from any church or organization which opposes abortion? The Catholic Church had made known its position in congruency with its history and identity. If one feels they are wrong, then the challenge of this position must be couched in biblical and historical terms, not just out of a cry to have the church catch up with the present sentiments of some. And if one is unsatisfied with their response, then for honesty’s sake, why not just leave such an “archaic” institution and join something more “modern?”

If the New York Medical College wants its affiliated hospitals to perform abortions, it should seek its funding from sources that support such a policy. Is that not utterly fair? It is both ironic and dishonest for those who, in the name of pro-choice, want to coerce a pro-life institution into funding abortion.

John C. Rankin, New England Christian Action Council, 11 Pleasant St.